BOONE COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - On Wednesday, the public got their first look at a plan tolled out by Kentucky law enforcement that could arm your children's teachers, and other school workers as a way to mitigate an active shooter situation when seconds matter the most.
The "Protecting our Students and Teachers" or P.O.S.T. Program is designed to address any active shooter threat in schools. Any school employee could carry a concealed weapon after a rigorous training program.
It's modeled after the National Armed Pilots Program.
Boone County Constable Joe Kalil and Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig started designing the program shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"Usually the police are only minutes away. When seconds count, you want the response to be a second ago. What we're doing is allowing the response to be within seconds instead of minutes," said Kalil, who is also the director of the P.O.S.T. Program.
The program is volunteer-based, but can apply to any school employee who meets the following criteria, listed on the P.O.S.T. Program's website:
- Volunteers Only(Teachers, Administrators, Staff, Counselors, Nurses, Custodians, Bus Drivers)
- Background Check
- Drug Test
- Polygraph Test
- Must Possess KY CCDW Permit
- Attend a 1/2 day Pre-Course (designed to prepare participant for training course)
- Complete Program Training Course (5-10 days in length, TBD)
- Follow-up interview of participant with Sheriff & Superintendent
- Semi-Annual Firearms Qualification
- Annual 1-day Refresher Course prior to school year (includes firearms qualification)
In all, Kalil says the training after taking a concealed carry course will top 55 hours.
"All we're doing is stepping up to the plate, being leaders and proposing the most thorough, responsible program to arm school employees that we've seen in the nation," Kalil said.
For one area school district, they're already using armed personnel in their hallways, and they review their emergency plans monthly.
"All of the schools, middle and high, have armed SRO officers. You can't have anything better than a school resource officer who is in the school all day long," said Barbara Cain-Brady, Schools Community Relations Coordinator for Boone County Schools.
But, just the presence of an SRO isn't enough protection for some.
"One patrol officer in each school isn't enough. Because the school's are so big, if something happens at one end, they can't get to the other end quick enough," said Barb Massman, who has grandchildren in the school system.
Darin Smith of Florence and his wife are teachers. A plan to give them the option to teach classes armed isn't something that works for them.
"When I'm in a classroom as a teacher, I'm trying to build a strong relationship, a personal relationship with the students. If they're worried if I'm carrying a gun on my hip, or if they know that I am, that's going to get in the way of that," said Smith.
Kalil says the program will work for three reasons:
- Posting signs on doors saying, "This school participates in the P.O.S.T. Program – Teachers and staff are trained and armed," will deter potential active shooters.
- An immediate armed response.
- Thorough, extensive training.
Right now, Kalil tells FOX19 that no Kentucky school has armed employees, but there is a law giving school boards the power to implement such a program. He says Ohio and Indiana have similar laws.
To learn more about the P.O.S.T. Program, visit: http://www.postky.org